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Liverpool defender Gomez may require surgery

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Liverpool fans expected the return of Joe Gomez to ease their thin defensive back line, but that may be put on hold.

After Gomez fractured his leg against Burnley, Gomez was expected to be back out on the field in six weeks’ time. But two months after the injury, there is only bad news.

With the 21-year-old still not back on the field, Klopp was asked directly if his defender required surgery to fix the problem. “I don’t know,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League match against West Ham on Monday. “We will see. It is possible, probably. It is not exactly going how we want, that’s how it is. He needs more time. We will see exactly how we do it.”

While Klopp’s assessment of his defender’s health was somewhat vague, he made it clear the recovery process has not gone according to plan. “There were different moments when we thought we could do this or that. It will take time. We can not say more,” Klopp said.

The inability for Gomez to return to the pitch has presented Liverpool with yet another problem along its back line, one of many. Dejan Lovren may miss the West Ham match with a setback regarding a hamstring injury that has kept him out since early January. Trent Alexander-Arnold has missed the last two matches with a knee injury and the club confirmed he will not return to training until next week. Virgil Van Dijk has played every single minute of the Premier League season but is suspended for the next Champions League match due to yellow card accumulation.

The injuries have forced reserve defender Joel Matip into action alongside van Dijk over the last two games, and the Reds have conceded four goals to Crystal Palace and Leicester City in that span. Jordan Henderson was forced to play right-back in the 1-1 draw against Leicester City, but James Milner will be back from his yellow card suspension to take over in that role.

Three things we learned in the Premier League in 2018

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In theory, every experience in life — whether good or bad — is meant to be lived and reflected upon as a lesson learned with an eye toward improving for the future.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup: January window opens Tuesday ]

Thus, three of the most important lessons we learned in the Premier League in 2018…

Records are meant to be broken

Manchester City smashed just about every conceivable record from the PL era en route to winning the league title in runaway fashion. The list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Man City won 32 matches, the most in a single PL season
  • Man City became the first team to win 100 points in a season
  • Man City broke the record for most consecutive wins, winning 18 in a row
  • Manchester City scored 106 goals in the PL
  • Man City won the title with five games remaining, equalling the record

It is unlikely we will again see a team dominate a single season in the same manner in our lifetimes.

$100 million isn’t a crazy price for a defender

OK, so maybe it is still a crazy amount to pay for a defender — or any player, for that matter — but Virgil Van Dijk has already, if one could possibly do so, justified in 12 months the price tag for his move from Southampton to Liverpool.

Perhaps the lesson learned here is this: if you have the chance to sign (arguably) the best defender in the world, and you are all but certain that position is the one missing piece standing between your team and PL domination, write the selling club a blank check. While the rest of the world goes crazy over midfielders and forwards — who remain plenty important in the modern game, no doubt — feel free to go left when everyone else is going right, from time to time.

Jose Mourinho and modern-day players do not mix

It’s easy to say that professional footballers should adapt to whatever tactics or management style they’re given by the manager at their employing club, that they’re paid more than enough to be expected to fall in line on command, that they know their place and don’t ruffle any feathers. Jose Mourinho believes this wholeheartedly, of course.

Thus, 2018 taught us that Mourinho’s strict man-management style no longer works with players of the present day. The vast majority of power, much like in the major sports leagues in the United States, now lies with the players.

Think about it this way: the reason a player like, say, Paul Pogba costs a club like, say, Manchester United, a then-record fee of $116 million is not only because he’s a brilliant player who’ll undoubtedly improve the first-team squad. Of course that’s a key part of it, but it’s not just that. It’s Pogba’s loud and lovable personality; his flicks and tricks on the ball; his flair and flashy hair; his name and face recognition; his marketability and brand.

It’s very simple: Mourinho doesn’t work well with — nor has he ever — players who possess too much of the above trait(s). His management style is to slowly drain — or quickly beat — it out of them until they fall in line as another nameless, faceless cog in his plain vanilla machine. Mourinho’s failure to adapt, though, was his only irreversible mistake in 2018. Never mind the fact it’s infinitely easier to replace one manager than an entire squad of players.

PST writers’ Premier League Best XI of the year 2018

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The calendar is turning to 2019, so who have been the best players in the Premier League since New Year’s Day?

[ MORE: Liverpool rips Arsenal | Spurs shocked ]

We asked our staff to search their hearts and search their minds a la Bryan Adams to find their PL Best XI from the second half of the 2017-18 season and the top half of 2018-19.

Here are the results.


Joe Prince-Wright (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Virgil Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Christian Eriksen

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling

David Silva (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Nick Mendola (3-4-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Virgil van Dijk, Aymeric Laporte, Marcos Alonso

Midfielders: Fernandinho, N'Golo Kante, David Silva, Christian Eriksen

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

N’Golo Kante (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Kyle Bonn (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Ederson

Defenders: Kyle Walker, John Stones, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson

Midfielders: Fernandinho, Eden Hazard, Raheem Sterling

Forwards: Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah

Kyle Walker, John Stones, and Raheem Sterling(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Dan Karell (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: David De Gea

Defenders: Kieran Trippier, Virgil Van Dijk, Toby Alderweireld, Ben Chilwell

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Fernandinho, David Silva

Forwards: Mohamed Salah, Harry Kane, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang  (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)

Salah, Alisson lead Liverpool into knockout rounds

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A Mohamed Salah goal was all Liverpool needed, as the Reds worked their way to a professional 1-0 defeat of Napoli on Wednesday at Anfield to seal their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds.

The win sends Liverpool past Napoli thanks to total goals scored in the group stage.

The Reds left the match open through a mix of missed chances and David Ospina saves, but ultimately finished the day behind only Paris Saint-Germain in Group C.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Reds had most of the early chances aside from a Marek Hamsik close call, and went ahead when Salah went low to beat a head-scratching slide from David Ospina.

Liverpool also had a bit of good fortune when Virgil Van Dijk‘s studs-up slide into Dries Mertens’ ankle was merely deemed worthy of a yellow card.

Salah struck the outside of the post with a left-footed drive in the 50th minute, as the Reds began the second half much like the first.

A rare foray into the Liverpool end saw Raul Albiol bound a header into the hands of Alisson Becker, and the Reds responded with Roberto Firmino giving the same to Ospina.

Milner just missed with a cross-box bid to hammer a shot inside the far post, and it remained 1-0 in the 63rd.

Ospina twice played a role in stopping a Salah break in the 75th, though a penalty could’ve been called in between the chances.

And Ospina made another fine save on Sadio Mane moments later.

Napoli finally found form in stoppage time, with Alisson making an amazing thigh save on Arkadiusz Milik.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Spurs draw in Barcelona, advance in Champions League

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Lucas Moura‘s late goal off the bench gave Tottenham Hotspur a 1-1 away draw at Barcelona in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday at the Camp Nou.

The draw, coupled with Inter Milan drawing PSV Eindhoven, is enough to send Spurs into the knockout rounds.

Ousmane Dembele scored for Barcelona, who had already won the group.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Dembele cooked Kyle Walker-Peters and then waited out a sliding challenge of Harry Winks before slotting past Hugo Lloris for a cool opener.

Spurs’ fight back was lively with a pair of attempts each for Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane that were thwarted by goalkeeper Jesper Cillessen or shot-blocking defenders.

Kane made a fine run past Clement Llenglet but hit his shot well over the bar as Tottenham’s second half began with chances.

Walker-Peters made a fine sliding block on Philippe Coutinho in the 55th minute, and Barcelona would sub Lionel Messi into the game a few minutes later.

Lucas Moura entered the game for Spurs, and forced a save out of Cillessen before missing wide from an odd angle.

Coutinho hit the post again, a minute before Spurs got their huge equalizer. Lamela slipped Kane into the left side of the box, and Moura popped Kane’s square cross past Cillessen.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]